The rise of cultivating sustainable farming practices in Southeast Asia

Practices under biodiversity, climate resilience, and economic opportunities have been filling up the region’s sustainable agenda

The agriculture sector in Cambodia and Vietnam is showing healthy growth. SimonPoon/Shutterstock

Sustainable farming practices promote biodiversity, sustainable land management, and increase climate resilience, and have been successfully implemented by farmers and networks in Southeast Asia for decades, making it important to the region, as noted by Southeast Asian publication Fulcrum. Examples include integrated rice-fish systems in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Laos, and Thailand, and the preservation and development of traditional rice strands by farmer groups and civil society networks in Thailand. 

Ethnic minority groups in Vietnam have also developed and implemented intercropping and integrated crop-livestock methods, based on indigenous knowledge and modern knowledge provided by government agencies, which have increased biodiversity and reduced soil erosion.

According to media and business intelligence organisation Eco-Business, Southeast Asian tourism enterprises have been promoting sustainable agriculture and supporting small- and medium-scale farmers to achieve faster transitions to climate-resilient agriculture. In Laos, eco- and agritourism are becoming popular, and some farms use profits from tourism to promote sustainable agriculture, including training for farmers and developing local green markets.

Related: Climate champions gather to assess and encourage improved sustainability efforts

In Thailand, there are hotels and resorts that are actively promoting sustainable agriculture, training local farmers, and finding markets for sustainable farmers in their network. Businesses can support sustainable agriculture by purchasing locally- or regionally-produced sustainable agrifood products at fair prices, and through marketing efforts, they can raise consumer awareness about the importance of sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

Southeast Asian countries are pursuing “green” or “sustainable” agriculture to attract the EU’s environment-centric investment opportunities and boost exports to European states. Media outlet DW reported that the agriculture sector in Cambodia and Vietnam is showing healthy growth, but concerns remain due to agriculture’s key contribution to climate change in the region, which accounted for 19 percent of Vietnam’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. 

To boost relations on the sustainable agriculture front, Brussels must step up its efforts to better educate Southeast Asian officials and businesses about what can be a bureaucratic headache. However, this will be far more complex when it comes to Malaysia and Indonesia due to differences over palm oil.

The Property Report editors wrote this article. For more information, email: [email protected].